How to Pack a Makeup Bag for a Trip Abroad

by Stacey Kole

Traveling overseas is typically more than just a weekend away, which makes methodical packing all the more necessary. You have limited space for a longer duration — plus the last thing you want is for products to spill or items to crack. Or worse, not to feel like yourself while you’re off exploring a new corner of the world! This makes how you pack your travel makeup bag a strategic operation. Read on for the 411 on packing makeup for a trip abroad.

Go Light on Liquids

First things first: TSA regulations say liquids must be limited to 3.4-ounce containers. This makes it necessary to either make your own travel-size products from their larger counterparts or buy travel-size items. A lot of your favorite makeup brands offer smaller versions of the original; sometimes you can even get sample sizes for free as gifts with purchase. Get creative on containers — for example, you can use a contact-lens case to bring just a bit of foundation with you instead of the whole bottle.

Be Strategic With Your Bag

Once you have the correct sizes, consider what you’re placing products in. Use a waterproof makeup bag with lots of pockets for separating brushes, compacts and tubes. Also make use of cellophane or plastic wrap by placing a piece of clear plastic under the lid and over the spout of pump products, and then tightening the lid in place. Finally, where necessary, cover brushes with plastic baggies and use ziplock bags for packing messy items (think self-tanner, bronzing lotion or sticky gels).

Make Compacts Crack-Proof

Have a powder, blush or bronzer compact? High altitudes and bumpy landings can cause these delicate products to break or crack. Soften the blow by placing a cotton ball or tissue between the mirror and the pressed product, or use the sponge applicator that came with the product as a barrier. Your clothes — and wallet — will thank you.

Do Double Duty

Since you’ll be tight on space, reach for products that do double duty. Choose a combination lip stain and cheek color, or use a shimmery shadow as both eye color and a highlighter (the Roar eyeshadow in our Tiger palette will do this job nicely). Also, try to bring a BB or CC cream with added SPF protection so you don’t have to pack a primer, sunscreen and foundation. 

Limit Your Palettes

We know it’s hard to play favorites when it comes to eye-shadow palettes, but seriously: pick one bold palette and one neutral combo and let that be it. An eye-shadow duo and complementary lipstick in both bold and neutral hues are really all you need to go from day to night; your blush can work with either a daytime or nighttime look depending upon application, as can adding a few extra coats of mascara. Pack an all-purpose lip gloss or two and you’re good to go. 

Let’s face it — when you’re jetting off on that dream trip, you want to avoid getting stopped at the TSA or having to clean up a spilled mess from products that ran amok. But use these tried-and-true tips for packing and you’ll arrive at your destination with a travel makeup bag intact, no sticky spills and the products that will make you shine in all your Instagram photos. So get packing! And have the time of your life.

Stacey Kole was managing editor of the national beauty and style magazine “Savvy” and is currently a freelance writer and editor based out of Phoenix, Arizona.